NBI: Figure Out Your Blogging Goal

So you wanna start a blog

…now what?

There’s an intimidating blank white page that could be filled with anything… anything at all.

That, my friends, is a screamingly delicious recipe for writer’s block.

Before you know it, you’ve put the blog post aside for another day, which stretches into another, and then a week goes by, a month… Whoops.

Just as poetry benefits from some constraints on one’s writing, so too can your blog benefit from some restrictions on what or how you write.

The only caveat is not to make it too restrictive either. If you decide you will only post in three verse haiku about one specific game with screenshots to match, well, that’s up to you, but I strongly suspect you’ll get tired of either the format or the game eventually.

Some things I would suggest thinking about:

Blog Focus

The subjects you’d like to write about – one game, a few, many games. Will you be sharing other interests, or primarily just one?

I’ve seen blogs cover things like games and psychology, games and cooking (yum), games and gender issues, etc. and it’s not a bad way to give a unique concept to your blog.

Or you may just want to have the blog be about your unique take on games – in which case, a memorable name and viewpoint may be of some importance. Rest assured that we are all very different, if united in our love of game, and the moment you put words on the page, your voice will be trying to come through.

Post Length

This is just a rough guideline for yourself – how do you know when you’re done? 250 words? 500 words? A lot longer?

A general rule of thumb is that short posts are more frequently read by more people, whereas their eyes will tend to glaze over and scroll past 5000 words of squished together wall-of-text.

A short post also takes less time to write, and you’ll thank yourself later on slow days.

However, too short a post may also end up restrictive in that you may find yourself editing too heavily. Once you turn on the editor, it tends to kill off the creative freewriting portion of your brain that produces all the freaky ideas, so you don’t necessarily have to take a word limit to heart too literally.

If you’re like me and love walls of text, producing 2-3k words every time you have something burning deep down that you want to say – just bear in mind the tradeoffs. Personally, I welcome turning off the readers who can’t concentrate beyond a paragraph or two, I think it spares my comments bar a great deal.

It’s also good to break your wall of text up into short, easily readable chunks. Pictures are a very good formatting cheat that I use all the time. Or consider a two-parter post.

Post Format

Conversational first-person?

Letter style “Dear Reader” like Stubborn?

More formal third-person?

Picture and text caption?

Whatever else you can dream of?

Again, bear in mind trade-offs. An informal conversational style tends to be the easiest to write on those dark dry blogging days, but may not match the image you want your blog to project.

If you intend on putting pictures in every post, it’s going to be a barrier to posting one day when you don’t have any pictures or can’t muster the energy or time to find, take or edit any.

Post Frequency

Fact: If you want more eyes on your blog, a very regular and frequent posting schedule will have the most effect in getting more readers accustomed to you being out there and making your blog part of their daily or weekly reading. Especially when they’re bored at work and are looking for -any- reading material.

But not everybody has as much time as Syp to post twice or three times a day. 🙂

Trying to keep to a daily posting schedule may already drive you insane.

Personally, my advice is to try for 1-3 days. It works for me, with some flex slippage of up to 5 days or so.

You may note that I keep a calendar on my blog’s sidebar. That calendar is mostly for me. At a glance I can tell when my last post was, and I try not to leave too large a gap of white numbers in between the numbers with hyperlinks on them.

The idea is just to get in a habit of writing. This has a net positive for yourself as you’ll find it easier to get in touch with your inner voice and ideas over time.

It does mean that some posts you produce may be rougher and less well-formed than others. If your blog format/standards allow you to post those, go right ahead. If not, just keep them as drafts – they can be worked on and improved over time, or just kept as a record for yourself.

Your Motivation For Blogging

Why you even thought this was a good idea in the first place…

The suggestion many bloggers will give you is to try and find some internal motivations for why you’d want to sit arse to chair and type stuff into the ether.

Fixating too much on garnering views, readers, attention or feedback will automatically depress you on the days the Internet doesn’t give a fuck.

You may also end up adulterating your blog too much in the attempt for ever-growing numbers. (Little tip: If you do want to do that, one of the best ways is to post informational guides. Lots of short, timely informational guides. You can try being a Dulfy for your game of poison. It may end up being more work than play, but hey, if that’s your blogging goal, work towards that.)

But ultimately, relying on external motivations that are out of your control can shake your self-esteem, affecting how frequently you post.

Maybe you’d like to practice writing more consistently. Or practice the use of English if it’s not your mother tongue.

Maybe you just need a personal soapbox. Or a space to share your screenshots or stories.

Maybe you want to be a community hub of some kind, or just part of some community or another.

Keeping this in mind helps to direct what you’d want to do as well. Being a hub requires lots more socializing and networking and marketing than someone who just wants their own personal hermit space online.

If you want to be part of a community, then you have to participate in it somehow – read and link other blogs, make comments, engage in friendly banter and interaction, etc.

If a writing habit is your goal, then that is your prime directive that should be prioritized.

None of this has to be formalized or official.

A goal is not a set of chains binding you to a writ-in-blood commitment.

If your initial set of goals isn’t working out, feel free to change them on the fly and adjust and iterate as needed.

The idea is mainly for them to provide some needed guidelines so that you have a clue whether you’re headed in the right direction that works for you.

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7 thoughts on “NBI: Figure Out Your Blogging Goal

  1. Ocho says:

    “If you decide you will only post in three verse haiku about one specific game with screenshots to match, well, that’s up to you…” That… is a pretty fantastic idea. I’d subscribe to that in a heartbeat. Damn it. Now I’m considering making another blog that just spits out the news from other sites in haiku form…

    Great post. Lots of great advice here. The only part that I disagree with is on post length. When I look for blogs to read, I find myself leaning toward the ones that offer short snippets. Not because I can’t concentrate, only because the # I follow is sitting at around 100 different blogs. Of course, it’s as you said, about how much you want to invest in community. I’ve seen on other sites that the shortest of posts, sometimes no more than 10 words, incite the largest conversations. My golden number is between 500-1000 words. 1000 for more comprehensive thoughts, 500 for the quicker, meatier posts. And yes, if I encountered a 3000 word wall-o’-text, with only a few minutes left on my break, I may skip over it or scan through it. But that’s me and what I prefer, so I practice it myself. i think that’s what it comes down to… think about what YOU prefer, and do that, as it is most likely to draw your target audience.

  2. I think above every other advise I could give on blogging is to give yourself time and space to experiment. find out what works for you and don’t stress. the first year of blogging is all about finding your voice, maybe even longer than that.

    oh and btw – I am currently looking into organizing a poetry slam for the NBI; I hope to see you join in 🙂

  3. Arcadius says:

    You will only post
    on one game, three verse haiku
    with screenshots to match

  4. Arcadius says:

    I find that either I have a hard time generating anything at all, or I find a golden thread and write forever. Neither method is particularly engaging. I’m so concerned about thoroughly covering the topic in one single post that I write encyclopedia entries. I’ve consciously tried to save tangents for following posts.

    On the other hand, I’ve often encountered a post on a topic that has me engaged, and then felt a mild pang of disappointment when the blogger starts wrapping up after a couple paragraphs. Everyone connects in a slightly different way.

  5. […] This is for you, Syl… and you as well, Jeromai. […]

  6. ficklegaming says:

    I just read this post on feedly, I just wanted to say thanks for the awesome tips for the blogging process, especially the part about frequency, I have wondered how often I should blog as mine is predominantly about gaming. I should only be posting when something has happened in terms of me gaming and not posting just for the sake of it, I suppose I see my blog as more of a personal journal that just happens to get read by other people.

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